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Green doesn’t always mean it is eco-friendly

Everywhere in urban India, anything claiming to be eco-friendly grabs attention. We don’t know what eco-friendly really means, it’s still a nebulous category with no uniform standards or authentication.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2010 01:02 IST
Bharti Chaturvedi

Everywhere in urban India, anything claiming to be eco-friendly grabs attention. We don’t know what eco-friendly really means, it’s still a nebulous category with no uniform standards or authentication.

So you can buy green goods, without ever really knowing what part of them is green, and why. But there is a bigger issue here. Is it justified to go on a green shopping spree? If a co-operative produced shoes made of natural fibres, made by poor women in some village, via a non-toxic process, does it justify owning 30 of them? I think not. The whole premise of living a greener life is to consume less-less air travel, less handbags, because each of these obviously take up natural resources and carbon spaces.

Purchasing something fuzzily green is better than buying something likely to be downright detrimental to the environment. But green does not give us the license to consume recklessly and all of us must discipline our minds to remind us of this every time we shop. Otherwise, green products really don’t have any meaning.

The New Bad News

You already know how bad mercury is for your nervous system and brain.

If you’re a young person, or have children, you also know you are even more vulnerable to mercury, found in thermometers and tube lights.

If that’s not bad enough, scientists, led by Dr. Gardner, have found that when a person is exposed to mercury, it actually causes autoimmune problems, such arthiritis and the less known but horrible lupus.

We are in real danger here in India. India not only imports mercury, but our power plants spew out 50 tons of mercury annually. NGOs report that we use 10,00,000 mercury thermometers every year, each with 0.6 grams of this toxin.

At the very least, India must subsidize electronic thermometers, shifting to LED lights over the next 3 years, collecting and setting up proper recycling of this material and creating new policy for the sake of our health.